Is IBM going into the digital advertising business? – CNBC

Combining IBM’s Watson — which can “learn” from experience to determine insights — with weather information create even better targeted advertising, said Sandwick. As people rely more on their mobile phones to access the Internet, he added knowing a consumer’s surroundings could be a game changer.


“More data means more specific targeting,” he said. “The thing that is interesting is that what Watson is really good at is identifying these implicit correlations that humans might not look into.”


If IBM does make the move into becoming a digital advertising platform, it will have stiff competition. Google AdSense has long been one of the top ad-serving companies using proprietary Google data, while many advertisers have been applauding Facebook Atlas for giving them further insights into consumer behavior.


“I could see it as a step in that direction, but there is definitely a long way to go before competing with AdSense,” said Sandwick.


However, Prabhu said if IBM decides to just focus on its analytical technology to help brands without entering the programmatic advertising space, it could have a lucrative business.


“The (digital advertising platform) area is pretty crowded,” he said. “I don’t know if that is the place they’re going into. But even without going into the space, given that they are in the business of big data, in many ways it could be a benefit for a company’s advertising.”


IBM and The Weather Company declined to comment.


Disclosure: The Weather Company is a consortium owned by NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of CNBC.


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